The U.S. housing market, which has been a bright spot in the pandemic-battered economy, is running out of fuel.
With buyers eager to take advantage of low mortgage rates, the inventory of homes to buy is scarce. That’s driving up prices and threatening to derail the boom by pushing homeownership out of reach for many Americans.
For homebuilders, the huge demand for housing is an opportunity to crank up construction and solve the inventory crisis. Instead, some are deliberately slowing things down as they grapple with supply shortages, surging lumber costs and intense competition for labor and land.
“It’s smart business,” said Gene Myers, chief executive officer of Thrive Home Builders in Denver. “But that means continued shortages and higher prices.”
After the Covid-19 lockdowns in March brought sky-high unemployment, most builders expected a crash. What they got was a…